Academic discourse in an informal atmosphere: ACMAR 2015

The Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR) at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management has become a much appreciated meeting point for the international academic management accounting community. The 12th ACMAR, held on March 5th - 6th 2015, provided three keynote speeches, parallel sessions, a poster session, and a doctoral colloquium yet still left ample time for stimulating academic discourse. Behavioral Controlling and the cooperation between research and practice emerged as the topics of major interest to the participants. Professor Utz Schäffer and Professor Jürgen Weber, directors of the Institute of Management Accounting and Control (IMC), welcomed around 130 professors, researchers, and doctoral students to Vallendar. "We especially invite young researchers to engage in discussions and use the opportunity to exchange views and insights in a relaxed atmosphere", stressed Utz Schäffer in his opening speech.

Sally Widener, professor at Clemson University (USA), kicked off the conference with her keynote entitled "Untapped possibilities - Survey Methods and Behavioral Management Accounting Issues": She underlined that there is more to successful business performance than external factors – human behaviour must be taken into account as well. According to her, there is a need for much more research into Behavioral Controlling. "The tap is only dripping, we have not fully opened it", said Widener. She also called for a combination of all available methods used in research. Best results can be achieved when experiments and surveys are combined and integrated.

Dr. Martin Muhr, CFO of RWE Retail und Essent (NL), also focussed on Behavioral Controlling. Addressing a room full of academics, the practitioner told the audience how analysing some unfortunate past decisions at RWE led to surprising results: The reason for wrong choices was to a great extent not due to changes in the power industry but to cognitive mistakes made by some of RWE’s decision makers. RWE has now introduced techniques to prevent these. Muhr concluded: "Organizations can improve their decision-making process by using certain debiasing techniques."

Establishing long-term cooperation between research, teaching, and practice is Professor Anne Wu's (National Cheng Chi University) objective. In the third keynote at ACMAR, she elaborated on her experiences in working with businesses in China. Anne Wu has been advising companies who are establishing controlling in their organizations for a number of years now. According to her, "planting trees" in the business world years ago, enables her to harvest "apples and cherries" today. Professor Wu uses research and solution models that can be offered to other companies as well.

Annual Conference for Management Accounting Research (ACMAR) at WHU
The plenary session at ACMAR 2014